By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid resident Ernest Leierer was one of the 82 Oklahoma World War II veterans on the 15th Oklahoma Honor Flight Oct. 8.
Each veteran is accompanied on the trip by a friend or relative, called a “guardian.”
“My son, Dennis Leierer, an engineer for Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, took a couple days of vacation to go with me,” Leierer said.
Leierer, 91, was glad his son went along.
“Without him, I’d never been able to make it,” Leierer said.
The trip kicked off with a ceremony in the auditorium of Rose State College the evening before the flight. That ceremony included a roll call with the veterans’ names and the branch of the military they served being flashed on the screen.
“There was a girl from the school who was sort of our usher,” Leierer said. “We gave her a booklet on the constitution, and she in turn gave us a medal, a memento of the Honor Flight.”
On Tuesday morning, the veterans and guardians loaded onto buses and went to the airport to board a Boeing 737 bound to Washington.
At the capital, the veterans were taken to the WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Washington, Lincoln, Iwo Jima and Air Force Memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.
“We got on those big buses and they took us around to the different memorials,” Leierer said. “We couldn’t get very close to the Washington Memorial. They wouldn’t let us go into some of them because of the shutdown.”
“As a matter of fact, I took pictures of my dad in a wheelchair next to the barricade with a ‘Keep Out’ sign on it,” Dennis Leierer said.
But Leierer isn’t complaining.
“We got to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington,” Leierer said. “That alone was worth the trip.”
Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran came to meet the Oklahoma group because Leierer lived in Kansas for 17 years and his son lives there still.
“He met us at the World War II Memorial,” Dennis Leierer said.
Leierer served in the Army Air Corps, seeing duty in England and France 1942-1945 and finishing his military duty in the rank of corporal.
Leierer was given a letter from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as he stepped onto an airplane on D-Day.
“He wrote, ‘You are about to embark on a great mission,’” Leierer said. “I still have that letter, too.”
“I’ve got a picture of dad standing in front of that engraving at the WWII memorial,” Dennis Leierer said.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb met the veterans at the airport when they flew back in to Oklahoma.
“It was worth it all,” Leierer said. “I appreciate it so much, and so did my son. It’s good to be appreciated.”